A short history of Bronte
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The Name and the Origin of Bronte
Mythology wants that the origin of Bronte and its same name go
back to the myth of the Cyclops , giants with a human
shape, symbol of the forces of nature.
The legend tells that the town was
founded by the Cyclops Bronte (which means "
Bronte and its brothers Sterope ("lightning bolt ")
and Piracmon ("burning anvil "), being at the God Volcano
service, had been condemned to work near the forge of the God within
Etna's bowels to manufacture Jupiter's lightings and the heroes weapons.
The myth seems credited also by Virgil that in its
verses narrates of Bronte and its two friends, divine
blacksmiths, in the forge ("Inside a wide cavern manipulated
the iron the Cyclops Bronte, Stèrope and, limbs naked, Piràcmon").
On the ancient origin of Bronte from a historical
point of view, there is little documented information and, in
any case only few ruins exist to testify the ancient birth.
According to some scholars, its birth would go
back to the Sicani.
Homer's Odyssey is the most ancient book in which
Sicily, then called Sikanie, is mentioned and, also
something is said about the SICULI (Sicilian).
Tucidite (in the Peloponnesian war) tells
us that the ancient inhabitants of the island were the Cyclops
and the Lestrigons.
However nobody says anything about their origin or
to which people they belonged.
Some Trojans settled in the western part of Sicily
with the name of Elemi and were concentrated between Erice
At last, in the island settled down the Siculi
coming, according to some historians, from the southern part of
Italy, because driven away by the Opici.
These, the Siculi, with the force of arms,
occupied the oriental part of Sicily and relegated the Sicani
in the western part of mount Etna.
Here, exactly in this area,
they would have founded Bronte.
In two districts at the feet of Etna (Musa
and Zucca) surely inhabited groups of ancient Sìculi,
pushed subsequently from terrible eruptions to go towards safer
places that could have been Maletto, Santa Vènera, Rocca
Calanna, Cisterna, Corvo, etc..
This is testified by the numerous funeral cells
shaped like ovens ("the gruttitti") recovered in grottos between
Maniace, Maletto and Bronte (a typical example are those
present at the base of
Rocca Calanna of Difesa), the prehistoric
traces of rocky villages and huts ("the
pagghiari") scattered all over the territory
comprised between Randazzo and Adrano.
In an area that confines with the territory of
Maletto (at Santa Venera) have been discovered
remains of a boundary wall of the siculi period with
rooms of circular, square and polygonal shape, and fragments of
terracotta vases and objects in bronze.
Other testimonies have been recovered in the
areas: Fontanamurata, Mangiasarde, Margiogrande, Cisterna,
Primaria, Rinazzo, Contura, Barbaro, Fontanazza, Marotta,
Sciarotta, Cantera, Serra Stivala, Bolo, Tartaraci.
The recovery of other archaeological finds
(bricks, tombs, funeral objects, amphorae, coins and medals) and
of vases of fine clay reveals also the presence in our territory
of Greek colonies; therefore, through here passed, Roman,
Carthaginian and Syracuse's armies.
Incontrovertible traces of Arab influence are
also picked up as the topographical references (Plain
Saraceno, Saracena Cave, etc.) or the great number of Arabic
words presents in the brontese.
The Foundation of
by Pasquale Spanò
The brontese poet Prof.
Pasquale Spanò in one its poems of the 1941 in the book
"Etnei" (Turin, 1993) narrates the origin of Bronte with a
legend that speaks about Cyclops "laborious and human"
(Bronte, Piràcmon and Stèrope) they lived on the western
flank of mount Etna, along which a river slid.
They helped Volcano in the workshop that he
had under the mount. Not like Polifemo, they taught the men
many things, between which the use of fire, than Promèteo
had take away front the Gods.
One day, near the river, they saw three
nymphs, Scibìlia, Salìcia and
Rivòlia and were conquered by their beauty. To
their wedding followed the foundation of Bronte, that it was
populated by their descendants, one exceptional race full of
Of divine origins and for a long time, happy,
the Brontese were transformed in "common mortals" by the
unbridled desire "to possess", brought between them by sly
The Nymphs and the Cyclops, very grieved, went
away from the city, that was destroyed by a disastrous Etna
Life to the brontesi gave the Cyclops
divine descent : Piracmon
Sterope and to Bronte, of hearth first and years,
were their fathers.
Seat was their in
skillful hand, anvil and fire
they gave shape to
bronzes and, for Jupiter, to
lightning and thunders.
From Polifèmo differed in that,
gentle, active brought to the men
the robbed arts that had Prometheus taken from the
The mount's cavern left and the
rest found their hard work in the
valley near the river
or under the oaks,
gift of a Numen.
The Cyclops Bronte, Sterope, Piracmon and Polifemo.
The image is taken from "The History of the City of Bronte" by Gesualdo De Luca.
The Cyclops, according to the Greek mythology, were gigantic beings with only one enormous eye in their forehead. In Esiodo, the Cyclops were Arge, Bronte and Sterope, three of the sons of Uranus and Gea, personification of the sky and the Earth.
Cronos, one of the Titans, also sons of Uranus and Gea, dethroned Uranus and got the Cyclops to be thrown down in the underground world.
When the son of Cronos, Zeus, fighting his father, freed them, to thank him they donated the thunder and the lightning bolts with which he defeated Cronos and the Titans, becoming therefore, in its turn, master of the universe.
In the Homer Odyssey the Cyclops were shepherds who lived in the Italic coasts; barbarians and cannibals without any laws, did not fear neither gods nor men.
The Greek hero Ulysses remained caught with its companions in the cave of Cyclops Polifemo, son of Poseidon, God of the sea.
The giant devoured many Greeks, but Ulysses got him drunk, blinded it with a red-hot pole, and escaped with its fellow survivors.
This funeral little cell, testimony of an ancient civilization, shaped as an oven (the "gruttitta") is fairly close to Bronte in the Difesa district, at the base of Rocca Calanna.
U pagghiaru 'n petra, ("the straw
pile of stone", so is called in Bronte, even if improperly, this strange cabin)
An ancient type of Mediterranean room, initially appeared singularly but afterwards became the inhabited unit of the primitive. prehistoric village. Our progenitors, Sicani and Siculi, probably began this way their relation to life, trying to copy what nature had offered them with natural caves.
They saw in water three virgins one day
happy, joyful: stunned their eye
at once was taken from the face, the aspect and
the high beauty.
Of the Dryads the burning Scibìlia,
of the Naiads the blond Salìcia,
of the Oreàdi the tawny Rivòlia
it was more beautiful.
End to race of feminine desire
it placed when the whirlpool divine
gave the dusk the ancient splendor,
horridness to black.
To the girls, repressed the fear,
grateful were the Cyclops sayings and
a forest the sublime offer
had sacred to Imène.
Facing west, in etnas slope,
were their temples and the first dwellings
of illustrious city, to the preferred Numens,
Of them happy children, blessed,
just and flourishing of talent and abundance,
of eminent arts, for long duration,
master to neighbor.
Translated by Sam Di Bella
Heterogeneous people have contributed to make the history of Bronte but, naturally, this coincides also with the one of the Volcano that
stands over it. Unfortunately in the silent millenarian fight between Bronte and mount Etna often the fury of the volcano has had the territory devastated and, in the past, also the settlements of our forefathers, canceling, forever from history, the first traces of the civil organization of our people.
The Etna does not make possible any minimal search as it holds everything hidden in its womb under wide and high layers of lava.
Here it is a short list on the presence of the many people who have conquered and dominated our territory during the past centuries (Greek, Roman, Arabs, Normans, Svevi, Angioini, Aragonites, Albanians).